“Damien, it’s all for you.”
A&E’s Damien, based on 1976’s The Omen, features the above line consistently throughout the show’s first two episodes. The meaning behind the words is obvious and downright chilling as a grownup Damien (Bradley James) is forced to recognize a terrible truth: he is the Anti-Christ who garners the affections of all things evil.
Damien, a war photojournalist who has no recollection of his turbulent past, is first made aware of his “true” nature in Damascus, Syria, where an older woman grasps Damien’s face and utters, “Damien, I love you. It’s all for you.” The woman promptly disappears, leaving behind a frightened and dazed Damien.
Episode 1, entitled “The Beast Arises,” spends most of its time giving Damien -- and the audience -- a glimpse at the horrors that await him. We’re also introduced to Damien’s ex-girlfriend Kelly, her sister Simone, and Damien’s partner-in-crime Amani. A stand-out amongst the characters, besides Damien himself, is the mysterious Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hersey), who has more than proven she is obsessed with Damien. Ann’s laser focus on Damien proves to be more terrifying than the show’s obvious scares.
Damien tries desperately to locate any information on the old woman he met in Syria. Joining him in his search is Kelly, who ends up dying at the end of Episode 1. Before Kelly’s death, the duo pay a visit to a biblical professor -- the professor knows Damien’s true nature on the spot and not only predicts the ruin Damien will bring but also foreshadows how Damien will die. He indicates the mark of the beast or the Anti-Christ is the numbers 666. Damien remains in denial and immediately leaves. Shortly after, the professor is torn apart by a group of dogs (hellhounds?).
Damien eventually breaks down after Kelly’s death and makes his way over to a church, where he screams at God to give him some answers. Cue Exhibit G of Damien’s poorly done special effects which features a crumbling cross. It looked atrocious and did nothing to enhance the overall quality of the episode. In fact, the show’s major downside is the special effects. Damien spots the older woman outside of the church, and she proceeds to rip out a patch of his hair. The episode ends with Damien discovering the numbers 666 engraved in the side of his head.
“Second Death” upped the ante and featured more interactions between Damien and Ann -- the scenes between the two have been the highlight of the show. Damien attends Kelly’s funeral and can barely sit in the house of God; he throws up outside of the church and is the cause of a bird crashing through the church’s windows. Ann is there to witness everything and seems especially pleased with Damien’s “awakening.”
To further add to Damien’s bad day, he’s fired from his job and hasn’t been told by his boss just yet. The boss does have enough time to tell Damien that Ann has purchased most of Damien’s photographs; we later learn she’s hung them up in her house. An assassin is sent out to kill Damien with a holy dagger, but the assassin himself ends up getting killed. Damien is questioned by Detective James Shay. Shay seems suspicious of Damien and can’t help but think the assassin’s death was anything but an accident. One of the issues I have with Damien is that it has introduced a lot of uninteresting characters. At this point, I only truly care for Damien and Ann’s storyline. Everyone else fades in the background when it comes to the show’s central plot.
Out of the batch of central characters introduced, only Ann is aware of Damien being the Anti-Christ. However, this episode took steps in changing that fact. Both Simone and Amani discover Kelly’s notes on Damien along with the video she recorded of Damien and the old woman in Syria. The two have the puzzle pieces laid out in front of them -- it will be interesting to see how they handle the truth.
Speaking of truths, Ann offers to tell Damien everything she knows about what’s going on with him; it’s an offer that Damien can’t refuse. Ann reveals Damien was adopted and that his birth mother died after giving birth to him. Damien is rightfully shocked by the information, and the aura of dread continues to grow around him. The episode ends with Ann leading Damien into a hidden room in her house. The room truly enhances Ann’s obsession with Damien, for it is filled with pictures of him along with items from his childhood. Damien’s entire life thus far has been chronicled in that very same room -- Ann is absolutely mesmerized by Damien, who looks more horrified with each passing second.
Overall, is Damien worth checking out? Despite its glaring flaws, it definitely is. The performances of Bradley James and Barbara Hersey have completely won me over, and it is because of them that I will be tuning in for the rest of the season. Damien is a sympathetic character despite being the Anti-Christ. He’s not a bad man; he’s simply been dealt an awful fate. Judging by the preview, Damien won’t be a nice guy for long. It’s a transition I’m looking forward to seeing.
What do you think of Damien so far? Let us know in the comments down below!